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The Montana Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the wife of a former W.R. Grace employee in Libby who died from asbestos-related disease isn't due any more money from the company's workers' compensation insurer because she already has been paid for all of his medical costs.

Christita Moreau, the wife of Edwin Moreau — who worked for W.R. Grace in Libby and died of lung cancer in 2009 — filed a workers' compensation claim for occupational disease benefits after his death. Transportation Insurance Co., W.R. Grace's workers' compensation insurer, initially denied liability but eventually paid most of Moreau's medical expenses.

It did not reimburse her for roughly $95,000 in expenses, saying those had already been paid by a fund created by W.R. Grace to pay for medical expenses for Libby asbestos victims.

Moreau maintained that Transportation Insurance owed her husband's estate for the medical costs, even though they already had been paid by another source. The Montana Workers' Compensation Court sided with the insurer, finding it was not obligated to pay any more money to her, a decision Moreau appealed to the Montana Supreme Court last year.

In its Tuesday order, the high court affirmed the findings of the workers' compensation court. 

"Edwin and his Estate were entitled only to the medical benefits provided by the workers’ compensation statutes ... and there is no dispute that those benefits were provided," Chief Justice Mike McGrath wrote in his opinion.

In November, the Montana Supreme Court established a special court to handle asbestos-related lawsuits arising from vermiculite mining in Libby. 

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Law and Justice Reporter

Crime reporter for the Missoulian.